past research

Finding Refuge: art, emergency and “imagining the unimaginable” in the resilient city

Bringing together a multi-disciplinary team from the humanities, engineering and urban studies, it focuses on Refuge (2016-2021), a pioneering 6-year program hosted by City of Melbourne’s Arts House. Refuge put art at the centre of preparing for climate-related disaster by partnering artists with experts from Australian Red Cross, State Emergency Services (SES), Emergency Management Victoria (EMV), University of Melbourne, and local community organisations. This project will aggregate and catalogue the many materials Refuge has generated across scores of live events and preparatory and post-event workshops. This archive of images, videos, interviews, surveys and fieldnotes will be the basis for inquiry into how creativity:
-shapes ways of knowing, feeling and relating that engage people as active participants in disaster preparedness;
-brings siloed knowledges together to address complex problems;
-contributes to social wellbeing as a facet of urban resilience.

Funded by CAWRI, UoM

The Social Value of Art Museums: TikTok, young adults and museum visitation

This project proposes that there is a timely opportunity to explore the ways in which young TikTok users evaluate their museum experience and how they express what it is they value about the museum. This aligns with a wider trajectory in museology towards a critical visitor-centered approach (Hooper-Greenhill 2006; Drotner 2019). Preliminary observational fieldwork by Pfefferkorn (2021) found that alongside the usual contenders of architecture and artwork (LaPlaca Cohen 2020), forms of sociality emerged as a central point of interest for TikTok users who upload content on art museums. One of the more under-explored themes of sociality to emerge on the TikTok platform is the museum as an ideal space for going on romantic dates. These insights into visitor perceptions are particularly timely in light of Covid-19 restrictions and recovery, where art museums find themselves in increasingly precarious economic positions and in need of further empirical support of their social value. Using a combination of semantic and image analysis of visitor uploads under the TikTok #artmuseum, we aim to locate key values as expressed by visitors.Results will then be interpreted for museums to support their planning activities and audience development.
Funded by HoSIF, SCC UoM

Museums as Assemblage

Museums as Assemblage offers a new way of thinking about the dynamism of art museums. Using the theoretical concept of assemblage, this work unpacks relations between visitors, artists, museum staff, and the museum’s nonhuman components. This provides an analytical framework that celebrates the complexity of museums today. This work takes the Museum of Old and New Art (Mona) in Tasmania as its primary case study. Mona is widely recognised in the museum sector as a success story, and as emblematic of the changes in museums in the 21st century. To situate this case study in global trends, I draw on a range of examples from art museums across Australia, New Zealand, Europe and East Asia.